Music in x0
Music is an important part of each book in 46. Ascending because I believe that one important characteristic of a person is the music they enjoy. So how could I not feel the same way about my characters? I think about how idealistic Lola likes classical rock with lyrics about things that matter, just like she follows the news and cares about issues and loves her garden and her family and the color deep red. I was able to put together my character’s own distinctive list of favorite songs, the following nine of which are woven into her story.
- “Time After Time” by Cyndi Lauper and Hyman Robert Andrew (1984)
- “We are the World” by Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie (1985)
- “For What It’s Worth” by Buffalo Springfield (1967)
- “Brain Damage” by Pink Floyd (1973)
- “High Hopes” popularized by Frank Sinatra, (1959 film)
- “I Will Survive” by Gloria Gaynor (1978)
- “What’s Up” by 4 Non Blondes (1993)
- “O.D.O.O“. by Fela Kuti (1989)
- “Three Little Birds” by Bob Marley (1977)
When my books appear on Kindle, I link the song title in my text to the chance to purchase it on Amazon. My other electronic versions are distributed through Smashwords where no such link is allowed. I’ve tried different approaches but have finally settled on finding a live performance that I think shows a little of a the personality of the singer and the band. I’ll admit that I’ve had a lot of fun seeking these out. Often the quality of the video isn’t as good as the more glossy clips, but I’ve picked each one for a reason.
I have removed most of the references to the music in the paperback version, but both the songs and their context within the story can be found below. Interested readers who do seek out these links are encouraged to support the artists and websites.
What follows is a little description of how each song is referred to in the book. Then there is a short excerpt from the chapter that contains the reference to that music, and then my favorite video of the song and why I chose it. Finally there are links to places to buy the music and/or learn more about it. Interested readers who do seek out these links are encouraged to support the artists and websites. Enjoy!
1.”Time After Time” by Cyndi Lauper and Hyman Robert Andrew (1984) is one of Lola’s favorite songs and she frequently hums it while she prospects for oil and gas using the 3D visualization techniques on her computer. She always thought that the lyrics said “If you’re lost and you look you will find it, time after time ” which made it a great song to prospect by. It turns out that the lyrics actually say “you will find me.” But Lola still loves the song.
Over the next few weeks, Lola finished working her way through the interpretation of the small structure located in one corner of her company’s lease. As happened so often in the oil business, her company had subleased the drilling rights from another company which had done so from another company, and now the term of the lease was near expiration and either a well would need to be drilled soon or the lease would need to be relinquished untested.
Because of the convenient fact that oil floats on water (check your salad dressing), one looks for oil in high places where the tiny coarse rock grains have enough spaces in between them to hold a good bit of oil. A rock with ten percent of its volume as space is a good rock to someone in Lola’s profession. Find the highest spot in it, put a nice tight rock like shale above it, which has virtually no spaces into which the wily oil can sneak out over the eons, and someone like Lola gets the message. Drill here.
This part of her job sat somewhere between treasure hunting and puzzle solving, and Lola had to admit that her day-to-day work would not have made a bad 3D video game if someone added a little bit of music and some glossy effects. And, okay, maybe a car chase or two. Lola enjoyed herself as she twisted and turned her 3D visualization of the rocks on her computer screen, humming as she looked for shifts in the rock layers known as faults.
“If you’re lost you can look / And you will find me / Time after time.”
Cyndi Lauper’s 1984 hit Time After Time had once been a favorite of hers, and now that Lola thought about it, it made good music to prospect by. She was surprised she hadn’t remembered the song for years. She sang a little louder.
“If you fall I will catch you / I’ll be waiting—”
“Time after time.” Bob, the older engineer in the group, joined in her song as he walked by her door. “Geez Lola,” he said, “I’ve had that song in my head all damn morning. What are you doing singing it?”
“No idea. Maybe we listened to the same radio station on the way to work?” she guessed.
“I only listen to my iPod,” he replied.
Personally, if I had to pick a single song as my favorite ever, it probably would be “Time After Time.” It’s not a decision I can defend, because, well, you can’t. You like what you like, you love what you love. Anyway, it makes sense that “Time After Time” would be the very first song I linked to in my first electronic novel.
A little over a year ago, when I gave each of my first three books a light edit and re-evaluated the links to the each of the songs, I was so happy to stumble upon this simple but stunning version of Cyndi Lauper performing “Time After Time” live on the sixth season of Australian Idol in 2008.
Enjoy the video.
You can purchase a digital version of “Time After Time” from Amazon. Note that the lyrics to TIME AFTER TIME were used by permission in the book x0. (Words and Music by ROB HYMAN and CYNDI LAUPER Copyright 1983 DUB NOTES and RELLLA MUSIC CORP. All Rights for DUB NOTES Administered by WB MUSIC CORP. All rights on behalf of Rellla Music Corp. administered by Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, 8 Music Square West, Nashville, TN 37203. All rights reserved.)
2. “We are the World” by Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie (1985). This song was released the year that Lola and Alex were married and the Zeitmans quickly became big fans of the USA for Africa effort to raise money to fight starvation in Africa. When Michael Jackson died in June 2009, his role in both the song and the fundraising are what come to Lola’s mind after she learns of his death.
On June 25, Michael Jackson died. Although none of the Zeitmans were devoted fans, all five mourned the loss of a talented, troubled man who had written songs that they had enjoyed. Lola noted with interest that so many people accessed the internet in search of more details about his death, or even just in search of shared comfort, that several major websites became unusable for a while. What a force we can be en masse, she thought.
While she found herself humming snippets of his music for days afterward, she mostly sang to herself the one song of his that she had liked best of all. Forty-three other musical stars had joined in to sing his 1985 collaboration with Lionel Richie called “We are the World”, with over sixty million dollars in proceeds donated to fight starvation in Africa.
She could still see in her mind the video of Michael in the black jacket with the gold sequins, his sparking white glove undulating to the music while he sang the first rendition of the chorus. Lola thought that when Cyndi Lauper quipped that the lyrics sounded like a Pepsi commercial, she had a point. There was no deep meaning here. Just a hell of a great idea. “We are the world.”
Due to the number of artists involved and various claims of copyright infringement, videos of this song being performed are few and far between, and are often removed from the internet. Enjoy the version below, which has been viewed over forty-seven million times.
Twenty-five years later, a new group of artists performed this song to raise money for Haiti after the island was devastated by an earthquake. For the full experience, and a chance to give your tear ducts a little exercise, spend a few more minutes enjoying this official 2010 Artists for Haiti rendition.
3. The first time that Lola learns of the complex and sometimes destructive history of oil exploration in Nigeria, the song “For What It’s Worth” by Buffalo Springfield (1967) begins to play in her head. The haunting tune and veiled warnings of this forty year old song perfectly fit the troubled tone of the news article that she is reading and also describe the feelings of helplessness and anger that learning of this history produces.
Lola turned to the major news outlets and found that British news, particularly the BBC, did a far better job of covering news from Africa that any U.S. source that she could find. Reading through BBC articles, Lola learned that less than a month ago, on June 30, Amnesty International had released a report calling the years of pollution and environmental damage in the Niger Delta a “human rights tragedy.” The report claimed that the oil industry had caused impoverishment, conflict, and human rights abuses in the region, that the majority of cases reported to Amnesty International related to Shell, and that Shell must come to grips with its legacy in the Niger Delta. The report noted that Shell Petroleum Development Company is and has been the main operator in the Niger Delta for over fifty years and is also facing legal action in The Hague concerning repeated oil spills that have damaged the livelihoods of Nigerian fisherfolk and farmers.
Lola found Buffalo Springfield’s 1967 hit “For What It’s Worth” starting in her head while she read the news article on the internet on her lunch break. Was it because the song’s haunting tune and warnings fit the troubled tone of the story? Or maybe she had just heard Bob whistling the refrain in the break room….
In the article, the BBC went on to report that Shell had defended itself in a written statement provided to the BBC arguing that “about eighty-five percent of the pollution from our operation comes from attacks and sabotage that also puts our staff’s lives and human rights at risk. In the past ten days we have had five attacks.” The Shell response added that “in the last three years, gangs have kidnapped one hundred and thirty-three Shell Petroleum Development Company employees and contractors while five people working for our joint venture have been killed in assaults and kidnappings in the same period.”
The general insecurity in the area, according to Shell, is what prevents it from running maintenance programs that might otherwise be run. Meanwhile, militants in the Niger Delta say they stage attacks on oil installations as part of their fight for the rights of local people to benefit more from the region’s oil wealth. Others argue that the attacks are staged mostly for the attackers’ financial gain.
Lola read the article with sadness, feeling for so many individuals now trapped on multiple sides of a bad situation. She had no trouble believing that Shell had behaved poorly, maybe even abysmally, decades ago, destroying the livelihoods of Nigerians they probably had barely noticed. But today, she needed an armed guard in Lagos to go from the hotel to the office. Who was in the right? How did one solve this sort of mess?
When it comes to this classic, one has a lot of fine video performances to chose from. Dates range from 1967 through a live Buffalo Springfield performance at Bonaroo in 2011, not to mention a wealth of covers by notable artists and several moving montages created on YouTube showing scenes form the Vietnam War and various protests. I decided to step out of the box on this one and link to the original Buffalo Springfield performing way back when on the Smothers Brothers show. This clip will remind you of just how young these guys were when they wrote this song, and of the goofy humor of that era in the midst of the turmoil. Enjoy!
4. “Brain Damage” by Pink Floyd (1973) is the first song that Lola hears after she becomes a full fledged telepath. The lyrics cause her to reconsider telling friends and family about her new abilities. She also once lost $20 to a friend betting that the song was named “The Dark Side of the Moon.” It isn’t of course.
By the time she had made it to frozen foods, every person in the store had a song to sing. A story to tell. The vague and sometimes annoying feelings she had picked up from folks in the past were gone, and Lola felt like a person with horrible vision who had just been given a pair of good glasses or a person with very poor hearing who suddenly was wearing the best of hearing aids.
It was true that most of what was coming at her was boring. His feet hurt. She was annoyed with her child. He was annoyed he had to work today. Right. He was missing the football game. Lola laughed. People were preoccupied, tired, worried, looking forward to some later event, thinking about sex, and one guy in aisle seven was thinking seriously about beating the shit out of someone at work tomorrow. Lola, knowing that most thoughts don’t result in actions, decided that without more evidence of intent she should just leave people be. And she did. She could. She practiced. Tone up the intensity. Tone down the intensity. That worked. She could do it.
Not all the thoughts were admirable, but amid the petty and the complaining Lola had to admit that there was an underlying hum of just wanting to love and be loved. To be left in peace. To have a little fun. To have worries solved and some joy at the end of the day. She figured she shared the grocery store that day with forty or so other souls, and she could honestly wish each one well and move on. It was all going to be okay.
She smiled instinctively at the checkout clerk as she finished, and felt the girl’s blip of joy at the smile. That was surprising. Lola’s smile, an unconscious reflex she often found annoying because it was so habitual, apparently sometimes brought other folks a bit of happiness. Interesting.
Then, just as she was leaving, some lady in produce started singing to herself. Wouldn’t you know it, Lola laughed. She had lost twenty dollars once betting that there was a Pink Floyd song called the “Dark Side of the Moon.” There isn’t, of course, just a 1973 album with that name, and a perfectly wonderful song called “Brain Damage” which talks about a lunatic inside the singer’s head and mentions the dark side of moon.
As Lola listened to the eerie lyrics, she decided they were a little too close to the mark. Probably time to get home and take a break. As she headed out of the store, she couldn’t help singing along.
Driving home, she gave some thought to her next obvious problem. It looked like Jumoke had been right. Thanks to some combination of the Igbo woman and the canoe incident, she had become a telepath. Why had it taken so long? Maybe for the last couple of months the PTSD, or maybe the medication, or maybe both, had suppressed her symptoms. No, abilities, she told herself. This is not a disease. You have abilities, not symptoms.
At any rate, if this was now the way she was, should she tell Alex? Her children? Her sister? In one sense it seemed only fair, but in another she doubted she’d be believed, no matter how much they loved and trusted her. That was until she demonstrated the truth of what she was saying, which now that she thought about it could be harder than she thought. She could not do card tricks. Tell me what I’m thinking. What she could do was pick up the real driving emotion they were feeling at the time and if she was lucky it looked like she could pick up a few facts related to that emotion as well. Which meant that she would probably just pick up disbelief. And worry. And maybe a little fear because whether she was telepathic or not, the fact that she thought she was meant there was something to be concerned about one way or another. Pointing out the presence of these emotions was hardly going to constitute compelling evidence to any of the fine folks in her immediate circle.
So what was the hurry? First, she should probably learn more about this and how it affected her and her life. The lyrics to Brain Damage kept playing in her head. It was true. Having people think that one is crazy seldom ends well.
I don’t usually go for “fan-made” videos with the lyrics, but I was fascinated by this fan’s recording of a live performance of Pink Floyd with assorted images and the lyrics to “Brain Damage” superimposed on the concert footage. It’s creative, and eerie. Enjoy!
5. When Lola tries to think of a song that will provide Nwanyi with encouragement, the first piece of music that pops into her head is the late 50’s classic “High Hopes“. This song, which most people associate with an ant moving a rubber tree plant, was first popularized by Frank Sinatra, with music written by Jimmy Van Heusen and lyrics by Sammy Cahn. It was introduced in the 1959 film A Hole in the Head.
Lola savored the feeling of Somadina’s friendship. She’d had so few women friends over her adult life. She’d been too busy with work, with Alex, with the kids. Too often there had been so little in common. And here was a woman, for heavens sake barely older than Lola’s own daughter and a world away in every sense of the word. Yet in her hearty self-sufficiency, in her attachment to her child, her loyalty to her sister, and in her good fortune in attracting the affection of a genuinely good man, they had more in common than Lola had with most women she knew.
Lola reached back with a mental equivalent of a hug.
We are both strong telepaths, she thought, knowing that Somadina would pick up the feeling and fill in words which were close enough to the meaning to get the point. We know that Nwanyi is at least a weak receiver herself after all of her association with you. At least Olumiji thinks so. Let’s try to send her a message together. Sort of doubling the transmitting power, if you will. Lola felt Somadina’s confusion over the last phrase. She tried again. Let’s push together. An image of two women pushing a large rock. Somadina got it.
Music, Somadina suggested. Nwanyi and I both like music. American music.
Okay. Let’s pick a song to encourage her. Lola thought for minute, and tried singing something in her head. Out came a song from her childhood, Frank Sinatra’s hit High Hopes about an over-achieving ant trying to move a houseplant.
What is that? Somadina asked. Don’t you know any rock and roll?
Yikes. She didn’t think there was a rock song that was particularly encouraging about someone surviving.
Enjoy this video of Frank Sinatra singing High Hopes with what must have been a group of school children from the 50’s or early 60’s. It is guaranteed to put a giant grin on your face.
You can also buy this song at Amazon.com.
6. “I Will Survive” by Gloria Gaynor (1978). Lola and her younger sister Summer sang a karaoke duet of this song together one night in 1988 after several margaritas. Their rendition hardly did this fine song justice and Lola has not sung karaoke since. However, when she searches her memory for a song to communicate telepathically to give Nwanyi strength and hope, it is not surprising that this is the song that comes to mind.
Nwanyi awoke to music so real she thought that the radio must have been moved for some odd reason to the back of the house. It was playing “I Will Survive”, an old American pop song she had heard often. As she became more awake she realized that it was accompanied in her head with the oddest of visions. Somadina was singly loudly, belting out the song with all her heart, as though her life depended on her singing. Standing next to her, with her arm around Somadina’s shoulders, was a crazy looking white woman, with this long, wild, dark auburn hair, dressed in some sort of armor, with metal over her breasts and an odd helmet adorned with the horns of some beast. The white woman was giggling self-consciously while she sang, like she was embarrassed to find herself on stage but determined to stick it out with her friend. How had Somadina even found such a friend?
Nwanyi realized that they were looking hard directly at her while they sang. They were repeating the chorus over and over, but now the words seemed to have morphed and they were telling Nwanyi that she would survive. The sound and image faded as Nwanyi came fully awake, but the memory of the spontaneous karaoke performance in her head stayed with her all day. It made her smile, something she almost never did.
If this video of Gloria Gaynor singing “I Will Survive” superimposed with a clips of a a graceful yet vulnerable figure skater doesn’t have you standing up and yelling “Yes” by the end, then you really need to turn off your TV and give this your full attention while you watch it again. Better yet, stand up and twirl around yourself a few times and belt out a “I will survive” or two along with Gloria. You’ll feel better, I promise.
7. “What’s Up” by 4 Non Blondes (1993) is one of Lola’s all time favorite songs. She and her toddler daughter Ariel used to scream the lyrics together in the car on the way to day care Now, the song runs through Lola’s head whenever she encounters a situation that appears to be messed up beyond all repair. Hear the song on YouTube. Buy the song at Amazon.com. Hear, buy and read about the song on the 4 Non Blondes webpage.
8. “O.D.O.O“. by Fela Kuti (1989) As Lola learns about Nigeria from her co-workers, she discovers the sounds of highlife and afrobeat. At first she has trouble appreciating these genres which sound so different from her own favorite tunes, but the more she hears them, the better she likes them. She also gains an appreciation for Fela Kuti’s struggles for justice in Nigeria. She discovers that a musical about Fela Kuti’s life is opening on Broadway in late 2009. Hear the song on YouTube. Buy the song at Amazon.com. Read about the artist’s life.
9. When Lola is at her most distraught, a fellow telepath provides reassurance by singing a bit of the classic “Three Little Birds” by Bob Marley (1977). The result? Lola becomes calm enough to do what needs to be done, and she is so grateful for the comfort that she sheds a tear of gratitude. Hear the song on YouTube. Buy the song at Amazon.com. Hear and buy the powerful version of this song performed by “Playing for Change.”
Finally if you like the idea of face painting for world peace, please check out these folks at “Playing for Change” as they sing and play instruments for world peace in this moving version of a song called “Don’t Worry“. This particular video isn’t specifically referenced in the book, but it captures Lola’s most fervent beliefs in a spectacularly moving fashion.
Why is music such a part of a book about telepathy?
As x0 explains: In modern society, popular music seems to have a surprising ability to transmit directly from mind to mind. One may hear a song “playing” in ones head, only to find that another person with mild receptive abilities will “hear’ the song also and start to whistle or hum it. This is frequently unsettling to people, and is often a person’s most concrete encounter with telepathy. (from “FAQ’s about telepathy at http://www.tothepowerofzero.org.)